Glacier Bay covers more than 3 million acres, with ocean and fjord coastline ringing its perimeter. This offers not only awe-inspiring scenery, but cruise itineraries that are virtually limitless.
With remote towns and wilderness areas along the route, your individual experience is dictated by the type of trip you’re in the mood for at the moment. Spectacular deck views aboard ship with glacier and wildlife photo ops at every turn? Check. Shore shopping excursions for indigenous crafts? No problem. Inland wildlife viewing and epic bird watching while hiking old-growth forest? You got it. Small vessel excursions up close and personal to calving glaciers? Which one?
Get Your Glamp On, Or Roughing it Lightly
More outdoorsy travelers may opt for the eight-day REI Glacier Bay National Park Adventure (from $2,995), offered in cooperation with UnCruise Adventures. The smaller ships used by UnCruise allow access deep into the national park. Once there, passengers enjoy private coves for pristine paddling, weather kayak or paddleboard. This quieter, individual approach leads to more opportunities for wildlife interactions. Trip highlights include three days within the national park, visits to Margerie and Grand Pacific glaciers, forest hikes and wildlife encounters with whales, sea lions and puffins.
Explore the Inside Passage at Your Pace — On a Budget
A cruise from Seward, Alaska to Vancouver, British Columbia, the Holland America Glacier Bay/Inside Passage trip (starting at ($899) is an eight-day itinerary offered May through September. The one-way excursion allows you to enjoy the modern amenities of a bigger boat, using it as a base to explore Alaska on your own along the route, with ports of call in Haines, Juneau and Ketchikan. Daily guided shore excursions are also available from a list of day tours at additional cost, as is a sailing into the national park.
Hiking, Paddling and Bear Watching, Oh My
The Adventuresmith Glacier Bay Small Ship Cruise ($4,995) is an eight-day inclusive odyssey aboard the 60-passenger vessel the Wilderness Adventurer. The round-trip from Juneau circumnavigates Admiralty Inlet and features two full days within the national park to whale watch in Frederick Sound, sight bears near Icy Strait, and go eye-level with whales, seals and otters on kayak and paddleboard excursions. Hikes in Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the U.S., might even provide a peak of bears, mountain goats or wolves.
Incidental Shoreside Bird Watching
In many spots ashore, as in Ketchikan, eagle nests populate the dark green evergreens on the hillsides above the bay. To access the water, the majestic birds have to fly over outdoor diners and strolling shoppers below, who can enjoy the show as the the ravenous raptors swoop down with a brief splash of their talons to fly back to the nest with dinner for their chicks in the form of gleaming silver salmon or trout.